Many years ago, during a stint in the northeast, I needed to get some cardboard for my wife on a Saturday, to be used on Sunday morning in the Sunday school. I arrived at the shop on Gujba road of Damaturu, Yobe State at about 6:50pm. I found the doors under lock and key. Beside it, some young men sat on a bench chatting. I asked one of them the whereabouts of the shop keeper. He replied that he left not too long. I paced closer to the bench, and asked one of them, “Do you think the man would return if I call?” the answer was a resounding “Never”. Immediately I began to sing a popular song, “favour is my name…favour is my name”.

I paced back to behold the signpost on top of the shop entrance. Fortunately, there was a phone contact. I dialed the number, “are you the owner of so and so shop?” “Oh yes sir” he feverishly replied. I went, “Right now am standing in front of your shop and would like to buy some cardboard. Can you come down?” “Oh, yes” I am coming. Within ten minutes he was standing right in front of the shop. On my way home, I thought of many people who fail in life due to the response of naysayers like the young man beside the shop.

It reminded me of a recent happening; one of my siblings who just graduated from an institution had been on my neck to help follow up on a form that was submitted to his alma mater, where he obtained diploma. The institution was expected to validate by writing back to Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) in order for JAMB to give him a PIN number that will make him legible to participate in National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

However, since the form was submitted six months back, every effort to get feedback from the institution proved abortive. My brother became nervous, as he had only two months left to submit the PIN to NYSC board. After all his effort hit the brick wall, he turned to me as the last resort, given that he actually attended that institution courtesy my stint in the northeast. When the calls became a neck hold, I had to act.

After many efforts were abortive, the next option was a woman, mama Kura who was a neighbour at that time I was in the northeast. She also worked there as a Clerk. Before I landed, she cut in to say “the people are mean and notorious for bigotry; only members of their group get their attention; and my brother was not” She concluded by suggesting that my brother should travel down, a 400km trip in order to solve the challenge. Without even making any effort, she concluded that it was impossible. What a pessimist!   But I objected, and eventually found another man who executed the job seamlessly. What she said was impossible was addressed within hours.

John Maxwell told the story of a tattoo shop in China where he saw this possible tattoo statement: “born to loose”. He asked the shop owner if anyone in his right senses will ever tattoo such statements on his/her body. The man pointed to his chest, then to his forehead, and said “tattoo here before there;” meaning it starts from the mind then reaches the head. 

I learnt from that scenario that if you have an assignment, always look for optimist; people you can count on. The following story exemplifies what I mean. Earlier this morning in the office, I invited a young man to my office to discuss a proposed business. He was vast in it so I felt it would count. In the course of discussion, he mentioned two market leaders in that line of business, and highlighted the secret of their successes. In the end, I wanted to decipher who he was on the inside so I asked “given that there are two existing giants in the business and their strategy, do you think it is worth the risk venturing into such a business and do you think those giants are surmountable?” He was mute for a while, and then responded in the affirmative. Finally, I told him that if his response was otherwise like “Oh, no…no… they’re too big or the market is already saturated,” that would have counted against him and marked the end.

The good book says: “as a man thinks so is he” but by experience, I realize also that a man’s speech or work is a greater reflection of who he is, which also validates this statement: “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Often naysayers, due to their mindset rationalize that it will never work, and will provide good reasons for their argument. Why don’t we just focus on why it will work! You must avoid naysayers as much as you can if you really want to succeed in life. Peace!